Okay, some of you may know I'm kind of on bed rest until my baby is born, which is only 4 wks away roughly. Well... this article came out that I got interviewed for in a pretty widely circulated magazine, and of course, now that it's out, people are calling a lot more for really fun cakes, and I can't do them!
I'm not taking any orders past Oct. 31st at all because I'm due 11/14, and I had both my other kids 1 week early. I'm doing "easy" orders until the end of the month. But no 3-D cakes or anything very involved with lots of time standing, etc. Of course, now that I get all the fun orders, I can't do them!!! I've had to turn away several customers already.
So my new M.O. is to send them to my competition because I read this book that says that if people trust you and feel you're looking out for their best interests, that they'll be customers for life, even if it means sending them away because for whatever reason you're unable to help them. Supposedly, they'll appreciate it so much, that you'll always keep them as loyal customers. Well, I really hope this author knows what he's talking about, because I've been sending them to the only competition I really have (no one really does 3-D cakes around here but this other place). But I've been explaining the situation and telling them that they get $10 off their next order with no expiration date because I want them to come back to me next time.
Just hoping this works... As far as the other place, it's a pretty decent place, but they are not scratch bakers, and I am, and I think my stuff is better because I'm able to take more time to do the orders. Also, they are strictly cakes, and I'm not. Just pointing out the differences...
I'm stressing out over here!!!
Now is not the time to stress! I'm past my baby days, but there was a time I was unable to take orders from my regular customers. I did send them to a friend of mine, but they did call me when they needed another cake. They told me her cakes were okay, but they preferred mine. You won't lose your customers, they will come back. I'm sure they understand, right now you need to focus on your baby. When they find out you're back doing cakes I'm sure you'll have plenty to do, so please don't stress and I wish you all the best for your new little bundle!
I bet you're so excited about a new little one!
If I were in your costumer's situation, I'd come back to you. I'm sure they understand that you're expecting.
IMO, if they came to you in the first place, they'll be back.
I'm a firm believer in karma - don't sweat these orders. The important thing is to take care of yourself and your kids and everything else will fall in place.
I think you are doing the best thing. The offer of $10 off a future cake is a really nice gesture. I wouldn't worry about losing customers - after using the competition, they'll just be more anxious for you to get back to work, that's all.
Good luck with the little one!
Ok, I believe in karma, too. I love helping people, and so when they are struggling with "where else can I go?" and I KNOW there is basically no where else but possibly this 1 other place, I feel like I should tell them about it. But at the same time, I was sitting here wondering if I'm making a huge mistake. I am hoping the $10 off will lure them back, but I guess I'm taking a chance. They may go there and LOVE the place. I'm conflicted on what to do. I really have no choice as far as turning them away, though. I really can't do much physically right now.. The thing, too, that I've noticed is that out of 5 calls, at least 3 people will tell me that their favorite bakery has closed. SOOO many places are closing, and honestly, I think people out there still want quality baked goods. Not everyone wants to go to the grocery store. So people are really scrambling in my area to find a good bakery. I am a new business, around less than 1 year. And I rent from a caterer. I'm really wishing I could get my own retail space. I have dollar signs in my eyes right now. My dad says I'm crazy even considering it in this economy. I know I'm naive - I really am - but part of me really thinks I KNOW how to make a business successful. I'm so dedicated. There's basically nothing I wouldn't do. Not just that, but I think that a lot of these bakeries that have closed have dealt with their cost increases by lowering their quality and limiting their services, which is not a good thing to do. People aren't going to pay the same or more for a crappier product. They're making little cuts here and there, offering much less, and their customers were noticing. Also, I think some of them were trying to compete with Costco or the grocery stores, and they just couldn't. I have so many ideas outside of just being a basic bakery - I really feel like now is the time to make it work. I think the industry has changed, and I'm ready with a fresh new way of doing things that may be a big welcome to certain markets. But obviously, that isn't going to happen, at least not in the next several months...................
Thanks for letting me vent as always!
if people trust you and feel you're looking out for their best interests, that they'll be customers for life, even if it means sending them away because for whatever reason you're unable to help them. Supposedly, they'll appreciate it so much, that you'll always keep them as loyal customers.
this has been very true for me...my customers are fiercely loyal.
i've been open almost 7 years, during that time i've had to close...once for a month, once for 3 weeks, due to surgeries ....i didn't lose anyone, just relax, they aren't going anywhere!....ps. i send people to other people too, for whatever reason, they do come back!
We have to say no to about 10-30 orders a week. I always send them along to the other cake lady outside of town. We're great friends and have contact on a regular basis. We call each other to complain about customers and warn each other etc.
Now..... I have tasted her cakes, and I don't think they are good. At all. It could be that they are just not good, or that the fact that mine are just so outstanding (and I don't eat OPB*).......
Whatever...... I always say to folks I send to her that I have never tasted her cakes so I have no idea what they are like. White lie.
*OPB - Other People's Baking
When you offer then the $10 off, are you getting their addresses and/or email addresses? I would make sure to get contact informtation for everyone you can. That way, when you're ready to start back, you have a contact list of potential customers. A good way to do this is to say something "If I could get your contact information, I'd love to add you to my mail list for updates and specials."
Yes, Jnoel, I'm taking their email addresses, full name and telephone numbers and writing that info down so I can keep track of the $10 off people. Also, I do have a list of email addresses that I use for seasonal specials, etc.
I was debating calling the other cake lady to let her know I'm sending people her way, but I'm not sure I want to.
"I was debating calling the other cake lady to let her know I'm sending people her way, but I'm not sure I want to."
You know, it might be a good idea, to give her a heads up and who knows, she may return the favor one day.
Take care of yourself and the baby. There will always be cakes.
My suggestion would be to send out $10 off coupons to all of the people who have contacted you when you are sure of a date that you are able to "get back to business". That way, they will know for sure you are back and ready to go.
I think it's great to let your customers know where to go until you're back up and about again. I have worked in retail for years and would always tell customers where their best bet was to get an item that we didn't have in stock. I didn't really like sending them down to the competition, but more often than not the next time I would see them they would thank me for the help in finding the item they were looking for. In fact there were times I would call around town looking for a specific item. Just think of it as offering great customer service!
This is just a thought, but when you are back up to speed, what do you think about the idea of contacting them to tell them that you are in full swing, remind them of the $10 coupon and telling them that you look forward to working with them in the future? It would ring a little bell in their head that you are indeed back and hey, the reminder of the coupon may entice them.
TrachyLH, that's a good idea. I would probably do an email though. I am telling people that I will be back in December - I hope nothing goes wrong and that I'm able to stick to that!!! I want my Christmas orders!!! hahaha
I agree they will be back and have respect for you helping them by sending them to someone you trust. Also, once that bundle of joy arrives all the cakes and monies lost will seem like so what. Hope all goes well for you and I'm praying for a safe and speedy delivery for you.
Not to worry about the "what ifs" concentrate on "the now". Keep yourself feeling good, cooking that baby just right and having a easy problem free delivery. Everybody is right everything else will fall into place as it should. In the mean time if your brain is in creative mode, sketch some fun ideas, colorful wows and put together your ideas for your business plan the whats, hows, whens - but only if you need something to occupy your brain while the bun is still in the oven . Don't forget to breathe
Thanks, guys! I am working on two cake dummies at a very slow pace.
what do you think about the idea of contacting them to tell them that you are in full swing, remind them of the $10 coupon and telling them that you look forward to working with them in the future?
That does sound like a good idea. A cute baby pic included could be a nice, personal touch. Maybe the baby pic could have a cake in it
Good idea, Deidre!!